Friday night's game with my STL opponent was the conclusion of ASL Scenario 13, Le Manoir. As we picked up the game, we were at the halfway point of the scenario. My German forces were still intact with only a Hero lost to a sniper. Meanwhile, my opponent's US Paras were still pretty much on their original firing line with slight advances towards my flanks.
It appeared that my opponent was channeling his inner Staros and simply didn't want to send his boys into harm's way. He seemed content to trade shots and as each Prep Fire Phase came and went...a German victory seemed more and more apparent.
In my head, I could hear Nick Nolte screaming at Staros to attack...attack...attack...
The simple math showed clearly that my 2-1/2 squads could be easily swept aside by 11 squads of 7-4-7's. Or so one would have thought and ROAR's statistics seem to bear out.
But my opponent seemed gripped by inaction. He had convinced himself that eventually his mortars and MMG's would DM one or more of my three machine gun nests. But despite ROF mortar rallies and endless belts of 30 caliber...my boys continued to hold out. Prep Firing was not going to get it done.
At the start of Turn 5, my lines were unchanged. The Americans were also still relatively far back and well out of their 4 hex inherent fire power range. The Americans were never able to put their full factors to bear on me throughout the entire game.
That's not to say that my opponent didn't try hard to clobber me. Every Prep Fire was intense and I just had to sit and take the beatings. Thankfully, my dice kept me in the game, as I passed my morale checks with regularity. Except in V3...where bad luck for the Germans seemed to reside.
With the breaking of the HMG half-squad on my left...I really expected that my opponent would make a strong move to flank me. I couldn't believe that my 2-4-8 in X1 was enough to convince him not to move forward...but it was.
Now, I need to digress momentarily and talk about gaming styles and the objectives that some players focus on in a game. My STL opponent and I have played ASL together since 1989. He knows the game and has beaten me more often that I have defeated him. But...he has a peculiar play style, which can hinder him in some scenarios. ASL 13 Le Manoir was just such a scenario.
My STL opponent hates to suffer losses...I mean really hates it. He would rather lose the game, than lose more troops than he kills. Actually achieving the scenario objectives is secondary to killing more of the enemy than he loses. So it was that he was completely unwilling to risk his troops by making some of the necessary moves to take out my 5 German 2-4-8's.
And unfortunately for my opponent, my HMG's also kept ROF often during the scenario and inflicted just enough pain to give my boys the edge.
The smashing of his X8 fire group would help the German cause greatly.
My opponent did move forward...but in each case, they were assault moves followed by another hex in Advance Phase. So basically 2 hex moves each turn...which obviously helped force preservation...but put little to no pressure on my defense.
And by Turn 6, my opponent was realizing that he couldn't cover the distance in time to overcome my forces in the two objective locations.
So instead of moving...more Prep Fire. My 9-1 officer did finally break...but would rally successfully only a turn later.
My 9-1 kept my defense intact throughout the game.
My opponent was momentarily joyful upon rolling a snakes for his MMG...but then realized that his boys cowered...like the air leaving a balloon.
As the scenario progressed...each turn felt like the one preceding it. I drew the line above...because it would only be in the final two turns that my opponent would cross it.
The Prep Fire reign of death continued...but thankfully was fairly ineffective.
My opponent did finally move his 8-1 stack to N5...which opened the door for me to send my rallied 2-4-8 back to the V3 HMG position. I couldn't understand why he didn't move to O5 and keep my forces divided.
Yep...it was like that...
Now...I was feeling pretty smug that my 2-4-8 had dashed easily down the road and was going to reoccupy my abandoned HMG position...and before any Americans had tried to take advantage of the unmanned position.
Now for a little discussion about hardback and cardstock boards. My opponent was using the old hardback boards, while I was using the cardstock boards. On my board V3 was not visible to Y10 due to the X8 house....but on my opponents maps, there was a clear line of sight. So I conceded that my opponent could fire his mortars on me.
When my 9-1 broke, I was a bit concerned. But my 2-4-8 promptly rolled snake eyes and became fanatic.
Yes, yes we were!
In my Prep Fire phases I continued to put fire down on the mortars and MMG positions. Most of my rolls were high...but I got just enough morale checks to break some boys and ease the pressure on my left flank.
My machine guns teams really were the difference in this scenario.
"Tell us again Sam how you knocked out that Kraut machine gun nest all by yourself..."
Of course...the German sniper gave me a bit of payback and broke the US mortar team on the left flank. This occurred just as my opponent made his last forward advance with two squads of 7-4-7's on the far left.
This sweep around my left flank was one that I had been expecting since Turn 4. It finally materialized in Turn 7..., which of course was too late to contribute to an American victory. My opponent never fully realized how vulnerable I was on the left...fortunately for me.
My MMG position had held the right flank successfully throughout the game...but on Turn 7 the US mortars finally broke them. But again...this was not exploited by my opponent.
I show the line once more to emphasize that on Turn 7, very little forward progress had been made...or frankly attempted by the Americans.
Turn 7...and the Americans had finally begun to threaten my left.
Turn 8...the Americans elected not advance any further. Again...the line is drawn to show that from Turn 5 to Turn 8...very little changed.
Game end and a German victory.
Now the Billy Bob part of me wanted to express my happiness with the victory...certainly every victory is a 10...but this scenario left me feeling a little flat.
Don't misunderstand...I was tickled to get the win, but I felt strongly that my opponent had not taken advantage of his force size to really put some serious pressure on my defense. Not to be to harsh on my opponent (he doesn't read my blog by the way), but I think in this scenario, his preoccupation with force preservation served to hamstring his attack. My successful KIA of his first squad on the very first turn paid huge dividends, by convincing my opponent that he couldn't attack or move without extreme caution.
I read a lot of GS posts where Grognards decry the use of Prep Fire by the attacker. I believe this scenario really shows the truth of that. My opponent should have been moving every turn and had his forces done this...I believe this scenario would have turned out very differently.